It’s time to ban black tie across Durham

We’re not Doxbridge and we’re not in the 1830s

Sexist and elitist, it’s time black tie goes where it belong  – onto the ash heap of history.

Who doesn’t love Downton Abbey? It’s a quaint representations of a past we’ve thankfully left behind. They are not a how-to on running university events. Somehow this simple difference on approaching ITV dramas is lost on Durham.

11150315_514590708688643_4511608435464483051_nDurham has a rep. Oxbridge thinks we’re losers aspiring to something we couldn’t even get into, and everyone else think’s we’re so elitist that Exeter is beneath us.

Black tie events at our university are a scandal no one cares about because, unlike disgraceful rent increases, you get a good Facebook pic out of it. A decent black tie will set the average gentleman back, maybe £100. And that’s with a Topman vibe.

Imagine if you’re already working two jobs, got a grant and yet you can barely afford the lifestyle many people here expect as normal. Now throw in the fact college events hold compulsory black tie and you’ve got yourself a totally elitist establishment.

At Oxbridge open days they never used to shut up about how inclusive they were, and how there was no “Oxbridge” background. Durham in reality, despite many trying their hardest, doesn’t seem to care. Why would you ever feel a member of a community that only appeals to those who can afford community events?


Your bop might be just £2 but whack in a nice suit and the bill is coming to £102 before you even have a drink in your hands. All that on for a Thursday evening with your college.

So why do we do this to ourselves? Stumbling into the worst night club in Europe in black tie, you are encouraging a divide within an already deeply segregated town.

Privilege comes without saying when you study at one of the nation’s leading universities, but do we need to rub it in the faces of people who suffer massive regional disadvantage. When you wear black tie to the club you’re saying you don’t care about this difference.

Is it not interesting that locals are capable of having a smashing night out in a variety of establishments and not wear black tie. I suppose the equivalent would be to wear miner’s garb in Guildford. You get strange looks and but you also look like a prick.

11415449_10152759171702133_6672920080138122564_oMen must wear a garb designed for the 1800s, while women peacock around the room. The implication is that men must subscribe to the same values they were expected to have back then. Nice wife, kids, breadwinner.

But fuck the 1800s, this is 2015 and we still have events where people can’t afford the clothes simply to enter an event, and the most important student in a college is called a “Senior Man”.

Durham needs to modernise to the 20th century, let alone the heights of the 21st.

The best and brightest of this country are not limited to the one per cent, so why do we discourage anyone from the 99 per cent to apply, by insisting on middle-class antics encouraged by an outdated dress code.